A Fulani Herdsman

The Federal Government on Friday inaugurated a technical committee on grazing reserves in Nigeria.

The committee is expected to work out modalities for establishing additional grazing reserves across the country to forestall future clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

It also mandated the committee to produce a report on how to address the challenges within two weeks beginning from Friday.

The  Minister   of   Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who formally inaugurated the committee at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja, said the committee was made up of representatives from the Federal Ministries of Environment, Works, Science and Technology, Interior, and Water Resources.

However this attempt as noble as it may seem is not actually the desired end to the incessant clashes between believed-to-be fulanis and other tribes around the nation.

After proper scrutiny of the bill in the National Assembly which proposes this move I have totally seen it as another means to enrich and empower the Huasa-Fulani while depriving others of their inheritance and livelihood.

‘The National Grazing Route and Reserve Establishment Bill, 2011’, sponsored by Honorable Karimi Sunday Steve,  among other objectives seeks to establish a national grazing route and reserve commission to manage national grazing routes and reserves in all parts of the country of the nation.

It is learnt that the new bill seeks to establish a commission which in the opinion of many is not the answer.

 The proposed legislation aims at establishing a commission that will make regulations for government grazing routes and reserves in approved areas in the states and FCT. The commission, the bill notes is to determine the persons who may use the reserves , the number of stocks and types; prescribe the parts and routes and times when they are used as well as issuing permits to persons, prescribe fees payable for usage of such grazing routes and reserves; regulate the right generally and activities to be carried in the reserves: regulate conditions of entry into the reserves , imposition of penalties  for breach and prosecute those who breach the act  and as well demarcate  boundaries of the grazing areas

Interestingly the law prescribes a penalty of N50, 000 or imprisonment of six months while it gives powers to the commission to approach the governors of the 36 states and the FCT minister for the purpose of providing land to establish a grazing route and reserve upon which the governor will transfer the land to the commission for the purpose of grazing and reserve upon negotiation over a suitable place to locate the federal government reserve and route.

From the above I want to ask the proponents of this bill: in this era of consciousness you want to hide under the legal auspice of bona vacantia, that land does not belong to anybody. However let us be reminded, a farmer owns a land upon which he farms and therefore a grazer should own a land upon which he should graze.

In addition the law also proposes necessary compensation whenever any land is been transferred to the commission by the governor .This compensation shall be paid to persons, communities whose interest in the land has been affected by such transfer.

Like Sam Tsokwa had clearly put in his position against this impossibility, why won’t the Fulani man sell his cattle for land or better still give his cows for land if he so believes his cows must feed on my father’s land? Why will the peoples’ common wealth be used to pacify a few? Will the government also pay the Fulani man when I want to eat beef?

Moreover at a time when regions are advocating for resource control, why will we be robbed of our natural resource- fertile land? If the far North is plagued by desertation, too bad; their fall our gain. They stay in their ranches and were sell them fresh grass and hay. Why does our case seem different? Our farms are not oil wells where they can be conceded to whomever government deems fit!

Remember unemployment is ravaging the nation. Who knows some of our unemployed youth could also make a living out of selling grass and hay. This is also an employment generation strategy.

As a Tiv man I have known my people to be farmers and land is our greatest asset just like the Fulani man even prefers his Cow over a son. I will not begin to imagine my father’s farmland which I may have had cause to fight my brother over, given to an “Agwei” in the name of grazing reserve! Kai!

The Federal better looks into more practicable approach to this crisis like fishing out the sponsors of this systematic terrorism, this one no go work!


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